Niger’s President Bazoum appoints former minister Mahamadou as PM

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Niger’s newly elected President Mohamed Bazoum has appointed former minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou as Prime Minister to lead his government, according to a decree read on national television late on Saturday.

Mahamadou until recently was the chief of staff of Bazoum’s predecessor President Mahamadou Issoufou.

Mahamadou, 69, first held a ministerial position 1991 as mines and energy minister.

He was Niger’s finance minister between 2011 and 2012, and was appointed chief of staff in 2015.

Bazoum was sworn in on Friday in Niger’s first democratic transition of power since independence in 1960 after he won a runoff presidential election in February.

On Friday Bazoum said he would make education and security a priority as he took over as president of Niger on Friday, inheriting a state racked by political tension and an insurgency that has killed more than 300 people this year.

His swearing-in took place two days after the government said it had foiled a coup.

Bazoum’s inauguration marks the first democratic transition of power for a country that has seen four military coups since its independence from France in 1960. Outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms.

Bazoum, 61, was elected in a February run-off poll that was contested by his main opponent Mahamane Ousmane, a former president who was toppled by a military coup in 1996.

Ousmane has contended that the latest vote was marred by fraud. Niger’s top court confirmed Bazoum’s victory in March, but the ruling sparked protests in the capital Niamey in which at least two people were killed.

Taking office in a ceremony attended by several heads of state, Bazoum said the West African nation’s mineral riches could help it reach annual economic growth of around 8% over the next five years.